The educational system of the United States includes both school and university studies. While the first option is supported by state and federal governments, higher education differs in terms of the type of privacy and prices for the educational programs offered. Throughout the last several decades, educational systems have been modified in several aspects. Therefore, it is necessary to analyze those changes, define the essential and fundamental ends, and assess the impact on the population in the US in terms of literacy levels.
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In the early 1980s, television was rapidly gaining popularity in society, so its potential was overviewed by various educational systems and programs. Postman affirms that television’s principal contribution to educational philosophy is “the idea that teaching and entertainment are inseparable”. Indeed, television concealed the immense opportunities for updating and advancing the learning scenarios and programs by supplementing them with various media effects that influence senses and allow to perceive the flow of information better. That way, films, and cartoons were created and promoted on television in the early 1980s. One of the most famous cartoons is “Sesame Street” which was aimed at preschoolers. It simulated the classroom environment, but at the same time was individual for every child. The critics of “Sesame Street” express totally contradicting ideas about it: while some believe that this cartoon is really useful as it makes children love education and school; others are firmly convinced that it rather teaches children to love television (Postman). Moreover, many of the exercises for children in this cartoon are irrelevant, they do not provide credible information.
While educational movies such as “Sesame Street” were produced to attract more attention in children and depict a variety of positive aspects of the learning environment, the images on television and the real-life surrounding within the classroom were rather contrasting as children could not comprehend the material provided or were distracted at school sometimes. The quality and essence of the education were heavily depreciated, putting a focus on individual or distant learning environments. As a result, a number of illiterate people in the US were inadmissible for such a developed country (Postman). The issue also implies that education is not just about literacy, it impacts the national consciousness and defines a commitment to personal rights and obligations.
When comparing general classroom education and individual learning courses, some advantages and drawbacks are identified. Apparently, school programs offer a variety of classes that go far beyond teaching the basics of literacy and provide the elements of public education. Barber states that “the logic of democracy starts with public education, proceeds to informed citizenship, and comes to fruition in the securing of rights and liberties” (4). Americans usually consider that democratic views are something that comes naturally, still, it is a product of experience and learning. Meanwhile, individual or distant school education usually deprives children of social interaction with peers. Those children that do not obtain a full range of skills are at risk to be not being socially adapted and becoming unconscious citizens.
Other fundamental principles of educational programs assume that the education system is not about children and learning only, it must be perceived as a complex mechanism comprising numerous elements. One of those concerns teachers, including their salaries and attitudes towards work. If America was serious about this, “teachers’ salaries would rise to levels that attract the best professional in society” (Barber 5). Furthermore, in case all necessary facilities and equipment are provided to schools in different regions, the learning environment would be much more attractive for both teachers and school children.
In the twenty-first century, the upgrade in facilities within educational institutions assumes access to new technological advancements, including the Internet and computers or tablets. That way, research that once required several days in periodical rooms “can now be done in minutes” (Carr). While access to information is significantly improved, the way of shaping thoughts has been radically changed. Typing on a computer keyboard also influences the way people think and write. In the age of software, “people have come to think of them as operating as computers do” (Carr). This means that laptops transform human thinking by adopting it to machine-operating standards.
Such technological innovations have brought changes to all educational spheres. While learning becomes more convenient in terms of information accessibility, the price for college and university courses is not always aligning with the quality. Therefore, people in the US either drop schools or higher education institutions and prefer job opportunities instead (Barber 1). This tendency should be considered by authorities who form educational policies and establish general benchmarks in literacy standards.
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During the last several decades, the educational systems and programs in the US were significantly altered. Those changes were usually aligned with social trends of the time but sometimes did not correspond to the established benchmarks. The dropouts from schools resulted in low levels of general literacy among the population, inability to meet teachers’ and students’ requirements led to dissatisfaction within a learning environment. Furthermore, the implementation of electronic and online tools in education both facilitated research and transformed the way people used to think.
Barber, Benjamin R. “America Skips School: Why we talk so much about education and do so little.” Harper’s Magazine, vol. 287, no. 1722, 1993, pp. 1-6.
Carr, Nicholas. “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” The Atlantic, 2008, Web.
Postman, Neil. “Learning in the Age of Television.” Education Week. 1985, Web.